I was never filled with so much hope and dread, simultaneously, as I was when I was pregnant. Even though pregnancy is an exciting time, and I loved anticipating a magical future for my child, there are also plenty of annoying things people don’t realize pregnant women deal with. I was so excited about the prospect of raising kids in New York City, until I realized how exhausting it was taking the subway while pregnant. If it was challenging before the baby even showed up, how much harder was it going to be once the kid was born?
Some of the annoyances I dealt with during pregnancy were the result of my own doing. I wanted to continue working out, but I wasn’t prepared to change up my exercise routine to accommodate my growing midsection. Doing step was no longer feasible by the time I was six months along, when my belly threw me off balance. I was perturbed that I had to find a new way to work out effectively. However, the positive that came out of this change was my introduction to spinning, which I grew to love, and probably wouldn’t have tried if I hadn’t been pregnant.
While my pregnancy was uneventful, thankfully, and I didn’t experience too many of the common painful symptoms that go along with gestation, I wasn’t enchanted by it. And that was mostly because of these annoying things I dealt with, that people don’t realize exist, let alone really tick pregnant ladies off:
Never Knowing Our Size
I was able to make my regular clothes work until I was about 16 weeks along, at which point I could no longer button my pants. But I’m frugal and didn’t want to invest in maternity clothes I’d barely use, so I took to stretching hairbands through my belt loops to keep my pants somewhat closed under tunic shirts I’d borrow from my husband. Every day throughout the pregnancy was a new discovery about what would no longer fit me, so it was hard to plan outfits, especially for work. Stretch pants and tank tops were all I wanted to wear, but I couldn’t pull that look off at the office.
It was amazing how pregnancy turned me into a magnet for other people's unnecessary opinions. It was as if everyone had wisdom they felt compelled to impart when it came to pregnancy, childbirth, baby gear, and discipline tactics.
Now that I’m on the other side of pregnancy, with a 10-year-old and a 7-year-old, I understand the urge to spew advice at expectant mothers. After all, the choices always seem clearer in hindsight. Advice to pregnant women is just code for moms, like me, who don’t want people making the same mistakes we did. And yes, we can come off a little authoritative about it. Sorry.
Ill-Fitting Maternity Clothes
As a short person, basic maternity clothes never fit me well. Arm lengths were too long, and skirts that reached too far down my legs had to be hiked up to my chest and worn as strapless sundresses (though this had to be done with an air of aloofness, because if I started caring about how I actually looked I’d probably have a breakdown). I refused to pay much for maternity clothes, which meant I was buying the cheap, ill-fitting mass-produced kind. Trying to find formal wear or winter coats to accommodate my pregnancy was the worst.
Being Asked What You’re Having
My answer was: “A human, I hope.” My husband and I didn’t find out the sex of either of our kids, and that shocked people. I think strangers wanted to know if it was a boy or a girl more than we did.
Maybe they’re silently judging me for eating this bag of candy corn. Maybe they’re shooting daggers out of their eyes because they don’t realize the grande coffee cup perched on my gigantic belly is decaf.
Maybe they’re staring because they can’t tell if I’m pregnant or not, and they don’t want to offer me their seat on the train unless I’m certifiably with child. In New York City, where I live, the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) has started offering women "Baby on Board" buttons they can wear to alert others they should offer up their seats. I am not sure if this shaming tactic would work, but I’d be willing to try it. Why not? Our society loves labeling everything, so might as well tag my body.
I know that guy sitting on the subway sees me and is only pretending to be asleep so he doesn’t have to offer me his seat. It’s one thing to not want to risk insulting a woman by assuming she’s pregnant, but as someone who’s been offered a seat while not pregnant, we will take what we can get, because I’ve logged plenty of standing-while-pregnant hours.
We Might Not Be Able To Keep Up
I’m a fast walker, but my pace definitely slowed down when I hit my third trimester. You can only waddle so fast, but my non-pregnant friends would forget that, so I’d be left in their dust as we navigated the city streets. They felt bad, but I felt frustrated, because it wasn’t something I could fix for at least a few months (and then, how fast would I be able to move with a baby strapped to my chest?).
Our Shoe Game Is Pathetic
My feet didn’t swell much, thankfully, but anything other than flip-flops was tough to get around in. With a stomach growing out, my balance was compromised. Away went the heels and high boots… still tucked into the recesses of my closets 10 years since giving birth because anything other than sneakers and flats make it impossible to keep up with kids.
We Are Expected To Share The Most Intimate Details Relating To Our Bodies
“Was it planned?”
Is this person straight up asking me if my husband and I had sex without protection?
“You’re barely showing.”
Apparently if you don’t look pregnant enough, you are failing at motherhood.
“You’ve really popped!”
Conversely, if you are obviously pregnant, that is something remarkable. Also, there is no context where this phrase doesn’t disgust me.
“Natural childbirth? Breastfeeding? Circumcision?”
Stop. Stop. Stop.
That Maybe We Want To Talk About Things Other Than Our Pregnancy
I always felt like my pregnancy was the elephant in the room that everyone actually noticed and wanted to make the topic of conversation. It’s nice to get attention, and feel cared about, but where was everyone’s undivided attention when my uterus was empty?
One of the big adjustments to motherhood is feeling like you have to be completely selfless. Shout-out to the moms who are putting themselves first more than I am, but culturally, I feel moms like me, who also work, are conditioned to feel that their existence is less significant than their children’s. Yes, kids need all the things because we are responsible for teaching them how to survive and be quality people, but I am not solely defined by motherhood. I was a full-fledged human before having children, and those parts of me haven’t died… yet.
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